What Is Quinoa?
Quinoa is an interesting form of pseudocereal that is not technically a grain or a traditional cereal. It is a crop that has been grown for thousands of years and is grown mainly for its edible seeds.
Related to spinach and beetroots, it is becoming a major food in America, Europe, China, and Canada, despite the fact that it has to be imported in these parts.
Quinoa is an ancient cereal that was cultivated in the Andes for the last 7,000 years. The scientific name of quinoa is Chenopodium quinoa, and it is a species of goosefoot.
It generally grows to a height between 1m to 3m in length, producing grains every year that can grow in various colors such as white, yellow, pink, orange, red, brown, and black.
The grains can be consumed whole as well as in the form of a flour.
It is primarily grown in South America, in the Andean region, including countries like Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia.
The plant was grown in the high altitudes ranging from 2,000-4,000 meters in the Andes, where every year, the Incan emperor customarily sowed the first seeds.
It was a very important agro plant for the Incas, as it was one of their basic cereals, apart from maize.
In the recent past, the Peruvian government has been giving incentives to farmers to increase the production of quinoa and other similar crops because of their outstanding nutritional qualities.
Protein in Quinoa
Most whole grains do not contain the amino acid lysine, or contain very little lysine.
Quinoa, however, supplies this amino acid along with the other eight essential amino acids in amounts that are balanced well for the needs of humans.
Quinoa also has a relatively high amount of protein for a grain at 13.8 percent protein.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 g of protein, while the same amount of barley contains only 3.5 g of protein and brown rice contains only 5 g of protein.
Quinoa also provides you with more copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc and less sodium than corn, wheat or barley.
Quinoa is also low in gluten, so even those with celiac disease can enjoy it.
Health Benefits Of Quinoa
Protects Kidney & Liver
Quinoa has antioxidant properties that help in protecting the heart, liver, kidney, lungs, and pancreas against oxidative stress.
When compared with other pseudocereals, such as amaranthus, it has higher antioxidant activity.
Some of the antioxidants found in it include total phenolics, polyphenols, and anthocyanins.
Sprouts of quinoa have also shown significant antioxidant activity.
A source of complete protein
It’s not for nothing that the health and nutrition circuit is abuzz with the many nutritional qualities of Quinoa. Quinoa is a complete source of protein, as it contains all essential amino acids.
This also makes Quinoa a favourite amongst vegetarians, who are unable to get their complete fill of protein through the vegetarian sources.
Protein can reduces hunger pangs and helps boost metabolism, and all those who are looking to shed some extra kilos must load up on adequate amounts of protein to do so.
Rich in Iron
Quinoa has a reasonable amount of iron. Iron is essential for our red blood cells which are crucial for hemoglobin formation.
Iron also plays a key role in transporting oxygen to cells. It also supplies oxygen to our muscles and brain. Iron aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.
Quinoa has a sweet, grassy flavor and texture.
Blend them in your smoothies, whip them in your desserts. Sprinkle them to your salads or add them to your soups, there are many ways you can add the super grain to your diet.
So get started already.
Low on the Glycemic Index
Quinoa clocks in at 53 on the Glycemic Index, which limbos under the 55 required to be considered a food that helps to stabilize your blood sugar.
This makes it a good food if you’re trying to prevent getting diabetes. And you can combine it with any other foods that are also low on the GI scale so that you can nourish yourself without having to worry about spiking your blood glucose levels.
Some diets, like the Paleo diet, consider a ranking of 53 high, so it’s all a matter of perspective and what your end goal is.
Helps You Avoid Getting Fat
The fiber in Quinoa helps the body get rid of unneeded fat. While also helping you to eat less by making you feel fuller longer.
This will help you eat less overall, as well as help your digestive system process.
The overall result is that if you have a problem with overeating, or a sluggish digestion, Quinoa can help on both counts.
The results of adding Quinoa to your diet can typically be felt right away. As you start to feel lighter both by not eating as much, and having more regularity than you currently do.
Types of Quinoa
While most of us are used to seeing the more common white quinoa. There are actually about 120 varieties throughout the world.
According to the Whole Grains Council, three categories of quinoa have been commercialized for sale: red, white and black.
Generally, chefs appreciate the nuanced differences between the three types. But the typical consumer will probably be equally happy with any choice.
White Quinoa – This is the most widely sold variety of quinoa, and takes the least amount of time to cook. It’s sometimes referred to as ivory quinoa.
Red Quinoa – Because it doesn’t easily lose its shape, cooks prefer using this type of quinoa in cold salads or other recipes where the texture of a distinct grain is preferred.
Black Quinoa – The taste of black quinoa is more different than the white and red varieties, with an earthy, sweet flavor profile. It takes the longest to cook, needing about 15–20 minutes to be completely done.
It is possible to have a food allergy to quinoa. Common symptoms of this allergy would be stomachache, itchy skin and/or hives.
Keep in mind that you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to saponin and not necessarily quinoa.
In which case you should soak the food for at least 30 minutes and rinse it thoroughly before cooking, should you try it again.
Quinoa is a gluten-free food, but in isolated reports. There may be a minimal presence of gluten that could trigger celiac episodes.
To avoid this, always purchase quinoa from trusted, reputable sources and discontinue use if you experience any adverse symptoms.
Rinse quinoa before you cook it. This removes the bitter coating, called saponin, that is on these seeds.
Eat quinoa in moderation, as one cup provides 220 calories and 3.5 g of fat along with its high-quality protein.
Should you have some difficulty finding this grain in your grocery store, most health food stores sell both the whole grain and the flour.